Use the word "lapse" when there is a failure, a stop, or a decline.

  • A temporary lapse in judgment caused Laura to make a bad decision.
  • Terry decided to allow her auto insurance policy to lapse by not making payments, but now she can’t drive her car. (The insurance company stopped providing coverage. That’s bad!)
  • Don’t let your family’s health insurance lapse.
  • When Bob lost his job, he lapsed into despair.
  • Older people often suffer from a lapse in memory.
  • The entire classroom lapsed into silence when the students found out that their teacher was not coming back.

There are two other words that are similar to the word "lapse": elapse and relapse. The word "elapse" is used for the passage of time. The word "relapse" is used when a person returns to a previous, bad situation:

  • The movie was so interesting, no one could tell how much time had elapsed from the start to the finish.
  • After twenty minutes elapse, you can take the pizza out of the oven.
  • Dorothea relapsed into a coma last week and died.
  • Pedro lost 100 pounds on a very strict diet, but then he relapsed and gained back all the weight.

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Date of publication: November 14, 2016